You are here

An Introduction to Middle East Politics

An Introduction to Middle East Politics

Additional resources:

448 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The Middle East has undergone enormous change since 9/11, from the invasion and occupation of Iraq to the events of the 'Arab Spring'. An Introduction to Middle East Politics engages with questions of democratisation and political reform in the region. It covers:

  • Historical Legacies; The Ottoman Empire, WWI, colonialism and the Cold War; nationalism and Islamist politics
  • Authoritarianism in Egypt, Algeria and Syria; political changes in Iran; the politics of oil in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab States
  • Intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • The recent uprisings in the Arab World, human rights, social movements and social media  
Each chapter opens with helpful learning objectives and concludes with study questions. Annotated bibliographies aid further reading, whilst the companion website provides links to additional material.  

This book will prove a fascinating read for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of Middle East Politics and related courses across Politics and International Relations.
The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East

The Middle East in the Imperial Era

The Middle East's Religious and Imperial Heritage

The People of the Ottoman Empire

The Emergence of National Identities

The Legacy of Ottoman Rule in the Middle East

Ottoman Rule in the Middle East

The 'Tanzimat' Reforms and "Modernisation"

The Military and Political Authority

Europe and the Ottoman "Sick Man"


The Colonial Period in the Middle East

The Dawn of European Colonialism in the Middle East

World War I and Turkey

The Arab Revolt and the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence

Balfour Declaration

Sykes-Picot Agreement

Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations Mandates

The Republic of Turkey

Colonies, Protectorates, and Client States

The Interplay of Ottoman and Colonial Legacies

Centralised Rule

New Elites and New Institutions

Control of the Religious Sphere

The Cultural Challenge


Palestine and Israel


The King-Crane Commission

The British White Papers and the Arab Revolt

British Colonialism in Iraq


Superpower Rivalry and the Cold War in the Middle East

WWII and a New International Relations of the Middle East

The Establishment of Israel

The Cold War in the Middle East

Geopolitics and Cold War Allegiances in the Middle East

An Arab Cold War: Egypt and Saudi Arabia

The Lebanese Civil War

The Iran-Iraq War and Cold War Machinations


Nationalism, Islamism, and the Politics of Ideology

Ideology and Politics in the Middle East


Middle Eastern Nationalisms

Political Islam

Islam as a Political Ideology in the Contemporary Middle East


Authoritarianism in the Middle East

Understanding Authoritarianism

Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East

Examples of Authoritarianism in the Middle East


Oil, Economy, and Development in the Middle East

An Economic Overview of the Middle East

The Politics of Oil

Liberalisation and Reform


The Military, Security, and Politics in the Middle East

The Military and Politics in the Middle East

The Middle East and the Nuclear Question

Terrorism and Political Violence in the Middle East


US Military Intervention in the Middle East

US Intervention in Iraq

US Intervention in Afghanistan

Post-Iraq US Interventionism in the Middle East


Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process

The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

The Parameters of Negotiations

Competing Norms and Competing Narratives

The Israeli-US Relationship


Democratisation and the Arab Uprisings

Understanding Democratisation in the Arab Middle East

Uprisings, War and Transition in the Arab World

The Arab Uprisings




MacQueen Middle East Website

Free resources on the companion website:

  • Chapter summaries
  • A timeline of events
  • Links to historical documents 

Ben MacQueen has provided the perfect introductory textbook for students of the Middle East, galloping through the region's modern political history, and signposting all the key events and issues in a lively, accessible and structured manner. Teachers of undergraduate Middle East Politics have been waiting for this one.
Emma C. Murphy
School of Government and International Affairs, The University of Durham

This is an expansive survey of Middle East politics that takes into account not only novel topics, such as human rights, environment and democratization, but also geographies that are generally neglected in such studies. Benjamin MacQueen captures the dynamics of continuity and change in the region and does so in a quite accessible manner to students and general readers. This is a comprehensive view of the region in the post-Arab uprisings era and an essential textbook on Middle East politics.
Meliha Benli Altunişik
Department of International Relations, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

Teaching Middle Eastern politics during the throes of the so-called Arab Spring is both exciting and daunting. Exciting because the peoples of the region seem closer to genuine democracy than ever before, and daunting because we have few scholarly guides to this new reality. For decades, scholarship on the Middle East tended to focus on the longstanding continuities in that region, leaving students ill-equipped to fathom the sources of and possibilities for change. MacQueen's textbook is thus a welcome companion to any course that seeks to help students understand the region's newfound political dynamism. Written with insight and verve, and covering a vast amount of terrain with efficiency and accuracy, this is likely to be the single best textbook in the field.
Tarek Masoud
Associate Professor of Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The book by MacQueen is a dynamic text that will accompany its readers – both students and practitioners – in a journey throughout the political development of the region by highlighting the changes and continuities that have always characterised this part of the world.

Silvia Colombo
LSE Middle East Centre

A great introduction for understanding the most complex region of the world nowadays. Simple yet distinguished historical background, an objective approach to current events, and a great narration. Recommended for both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Dr Hakan Ongur
Department of Political Science, TOBB University of Economic & Tech
March 28, 2014

This is an excellent coursebook on Middle East politics. It brings together essential information and current politics. As such, students not only learn about historical contexts, but learn to appreciate how contexts feed into current affairs.

Dr Barbara Zollner
Politics , Birkbeck College
December 2, 2013

Excellent insight for those who are interested in middle east politics. Good lay out identifying key aspects. A must read for students who wish to develop their understanding of middle east politics.

Miss Sharron Stillyards
health and social care, northlindsey college
March 12, 2013

Benjamin MacQueen

Dr Benjamin MacQueen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University. His research and teaching focuses on the politics of conflict, its resolution, and issues surrounding post-conflict reconstruction with a specific emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa, with publications including American Democracy Promotion in the Changing Middle East: From Bush to Obama (London: Routledge, 2013), with Shahram Akbarzadeh, James Piscatori, & Amin Saikal and Political Culture and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World: Lebanon and Algeria (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2009). More About Author